In this week’s PODCAST, as we continue in our chronological study of the life and ministry of Jesus, we come to Matthew 18:15-17 — one of the most important passages in all of the New Testament, the so-called “Church Discipline” passage.
Church Discipline, a teaching in many local churches that really rose into prominence in the late 1970’s and became quite the trend. I can remember attending church leadership conferences back then and hearing pastors — I’ll use word “boast” — of the fact that they recently removed an individual or individuals from their churches, thereby “preserving the purity of their churches.” Others would then oooh and ahhh at the boldness of the pastor in confronting the sin in his church and taking decisive action in order to preserve the purity of his church by the process of Church Discipline as outline by Jesus here in Matthew 18.
Today, one of this nation’s leading Church Discipline proponents insists that church discipline, as outlined in Matthew 18, is one of the marks of a healthy church. He writes this on his website, clearly articulating the prevailing view of Church Discipline, and indeed includes this as one of his main talking points as he addresses pastors’ conferences throughout the country, encouraging them to do the same:
Church discipline is the act of correcting sin in the life of the body, including the possible final step of excluding a professing Christian from membership in the church and participation in the Lord’s Supper because of serious unrepentant sin.
Consequently, it has become (and in many places still is) standard practice to remove or “exclude” or excommunicate (you choose the term) unrepentant sinners from their local churches. Or if not standard practice, this notion of Church Discipline is certainly included in most of our church bylaws.
Well, in light of the above definition — More importantly, in light of Jesus’ words in Matthew 18 — is that really what Jesus taught to His disciples and to us?
Let’s find out together.
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God bless you as you listen.